Thursday, 18 October 2012

Pan-Asian cuisine at Banana Tree

Specialising in Indochinese cuisine*, Banana Tree has six branches across London, serving all corners of the capital with excellent pan-Asian food at a reasonable price.

The Angel branch is my 'local': Situated just a few minute's walk from my flat, it's the perfect remedy to a long hard day at work - ideal for those nights when I can't face cooking, but don't want to get dressed up and sit through a formal dinner either. The decor is stylish but understated - think a sexed-up Wagamama - and with long wooden tables and a laid-back atmosphere, it's as perfect for group dining as it is for a relaxed date.

The menu is varied and pretty extensive, featuring South-East Asian classics such as pho and nasi goreng** (ahh, backpacking memories!) alongside a few dishes I haven't tried before (like the exotic-sounding "Kari Santan Melayu" seafood curry).

Yum yum yum: peachy mango bellini

My most recent visit to Banana Tree was last week, when I came here with my boyfriend and his mum. After ordering some drinks - a couple of peachy mango bellinis and some authentic thai Singer beer - we got stuck into the food menu.

Banana Tree has a really tasty selection of starters, from tamarind and garlic chicken wings to Malaysian laksa soup, and we struggled to chose just three. Eventually we decided to share the double cooked crispy pork mix, satay chicken, and kau chi dumplings.

The crispy pork was excellent. Miniature ribs, encased in a delicious layer of dark, chewy meat, were served alongside a lovely dipping sauce and a helping of tangy achar pickle. Despite the generous portion, these disappeared very quickly!

Kajang satay chicken was also very good. The succulent skewers were accompanied by a beautiful peanut dipping sauce, while chunky slices of glutinous steamed rice, wrapped in palm leaf, made an interesting addition to the dish.

The kau chi dumplings (hidden beneath the fresh herb garnish in the picture above) had a light, fragrant pork and prawn filling - definitely the healthiest starter of the three!

For my main course, I was sorely tempted by the pad thai (which is my go-to South-East Asian order - I've tried Banana Tree's version before and it's very good). However, determined to be a bit more adventurous, I opted instead for the chargrilled blackened chilli pork.

With tender slices of chargrilled meat in a delicious glossy sauce, this was a perfect light main (although it became somewhat less light after I'd dipped each bite into the remnants of the peanut satay sauce!).

My boyfriend's mum went for the crispy chicken with mango and sweet lime sauce. I stole a taste and it was delicious - reminiscent of Chinese lemon chicken (but not the terrible version you sometimes get from dodgy takeaways, all chewy meaty and synthetic-tasting gloopy sauce!), except more fruity.

Meanwhile, my boyfriend went with "The Legendary Rendang". Lauded in the menu as "king of curries", this consisted of slow-cooked beef in a tasty coconut-based curry sauce. For £2.95, he upgraded to the Banana Tree Special Combo meal, and received a sesame glass noodle salad, steamed jasmine rice, two deep-fried sweet corn cakes, and a couple of spicy crackers on the side.

We really enjoyed our meal here (as always) and I'll definitely be popping by again soon...And with branches all over London, I recommend you give Banana Tree a try too!

*Indochina being Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos
**Vietnamese noodle soup and Indonesian egg fried rice, respectively - both delicious!

Banana Tree on UrbanspoonSquare Meal